Early in 2011, Mark Bittman ended his long-running New York Times column The Minimalist, but he didn't go far. He stayed at the paper and became an op-ed columnist, focusing on food issues instead of recipes. He bid farewell to the Times completely in mid-September this year to practice what he's been preaching in print.
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I'm excited about what's next for the always-inspiring author and food activist. This past summer, he launched "California Matters with Mark Bittman," a 10-episode Web series that focuses on how research and food trends in the state impact the nation. The series covers varying topics like labor justice within the food industry, school lunches and wild bees.
That's not all Bittman is doing. He's sticking around California and joining a start-up company. In his farewell column in the Times he said, "I’m leaving to take a central role in a year-old food company, to do what I’ve been writing about these many years: to make it easier for people to eat more plants. (“Oh,” say my friends, “you move to California and join a start-up.” Yup. Corny as can be.) I see it as putting philosophy into action and will talk about details soon."
In an interview with The Takeaway, he explained that the "awareness level of food and political unrest, food and climate change, food and health, for sure, food and the environment, resources and so on has just increased exponentially in the past five, ten years," but there's still a lot of complacency. That awareness hasn't translated much politically, where Bittman estimates 98 percent of the emphasis in climate change is placed on fossil fuels. Little attention is paid to how agricultural factors like the transportation of food, methods of farming, and feeding cattle and other livestock can be addressed to lessen their carbon footprint.
How will these issues fit in with Bittman's start-up venture? He's not releasing details yet. What he has said is that he's been working on it since May, and he's had four months of "super fun" doing it.
There's one more next move on the horizon for Bittman, a new book. "Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix" will be released in late October, a "a collection of over 400 flexible recipes covering vegetables, fruits, meats and chicken, and even desserts."
Bittman may not be coming to us regularly in the New York Times anymore, but it looks like he's taking what he's passionate about — food, people, the planet and how they all interconnect — and finding new ways to continue making a change for the better with it.